15 Impressive Facts About ‘Grey’s Anatomy’s Legacy (PHOTOS)

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Grey's Anatomy Facts Ellen Pompeo
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Grey's Anatomy Facts 350th Episode Celebration
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1. Longest Medical Drama

With its 332nd episode, Season 15’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” Grey’s Anatomy surpassed ER to become American television’s longest-running primetime medical drama.

Grey's Anatomy Facts Kelly McCreary
Tony Rivetti/ABC

2. Longest ABC Show

By the end of Season 12, Grey’s Anatomy had become the longest-running scripted primetime series in ABC history, beating previous record-holder NYPD Blue.

Grey's Anatomy Facts Helm Schmitt
Christopher Willard/ABC

3. Ratings Last Season

Even in its 15th season, Grey’s Anatomy reigned as ABC’s #1 show in the coveted 18-to-49-year-old viewer demographic.

Grey's Anatomy Facts Camilla Luddington Jesse Williams
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4. Ratings for All Seasons

In the same demo, Grey’s has ranked in the top 10 broadcast TV shows for all but two of its 15 completed seasons so far.

Shonda Rhimes
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5. Shonda Rhimes’ Income

In 2018—a decade and a half after creating Grey’s Anatomy and shortly after inking a deal with Netflix—Shonda Rhimes announced that she was the “highest-paid showrunner in television.”

Grey's Anatomy Facts Ellen Pompeo
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6. Ellen Pompeo’s Salary

In 2018, The Hollywood Reporter announced Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) had negotiated a new Grey’s Anatomy contract that would earn her more than $20 million a year, making her the highest-paid actress in primetime television.

Grey's Anatomy Facts ID Badges
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7. Disney’s Payday

Pompeo told THR that Grey’s Anatomy “has generated nearly $3 billion for Disney,” the parent company of both ABC and ABC Studios.

Grey's Anatomy Facts Fan Art
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8. Netflix Effect

Ben Sherwood, former president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, revealed in 2017 that 2.4 million people discover Grey’s on Netflix every year and 200,000 watch the pilot episode on the streaming platform every month.

Grey's Anatomy Facts Kevin McKidd
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9. Twitter Activity

Heading into its 12th season, Grey’s Anatomy topped the list of most buzzed-about fall TV premieres, according to Twitter. This past December, the show ranked #5 in the list of Twitter’s most popular TV shows of 2019.

Grey's Anatomy Facts Richard Flood Ellen Pompeo
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10. Academic Research

The show has been the subject of much academic research, including a widely-cited 2009 study of Grey’s viewers’ perception of doctors. The same researcher, Brian L. Quick, collaborated on a study of Grey’s viewers’ organ donation attitudes published in 2013.

Grey's Anatomy Facts Kevin McKidd
Richard Cartwright/ABC

11. Lives Saved

In 2011, a Wisconsin girl and her friend performed lifesaving CPR after the girl’s mother suffered a heart attack, using techniques they learned watching Grey’s Anatomy. And in 2015, an Israeli woman revealed she saved her own life by seeking a second opinion about a lump in her breast after watching a Grey’s episode about a similar case.

Grey's Anatomy Facts Jo
Richard Cartwright/ABC

12. Sexual Assault Hotline Awareness

The Season 15 episode “Silent All These Years” led to a 43% bump to calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline and a 1,995% spike in tweets mentioning the hotline.

Grey's Anatomy Facts Jessica Capshaw
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13. Baby Names

The show inspires baby names each year: In 2014, The Washington Post reported a 30% jump for babies named Callie and a 35% increase for babies named Arizona.

Grey's Anatomy Facts Chandra Wilson
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14. International Reach

Grey’s Anatomy airs in roughly 220 territories around the world, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Grey's Anatomy Facts Meredith Schmitt
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15. International Adaptations

Grey’s has also inspired adaptations in Colombia and Mexico, both titled A corazón abierto. The character names for the intern class in both telenovelas? María, Augusto, Jorge, Isabel, and Cristina.

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When Grey’s Anatomy premiered 15 years ago, no one knew it would become a cultural megalith. Rob Lowe passed on the chance to play McDreamy, choosing instead to star in the short-lived Dr. Vegas. The powers that be at ABC waffled about the title, nearly opting to call the show Surgeons and Complications. The Grey’s writers had to pack up their offices after finishing work on the first season. And the series premiere — which aired March 27, 2005, as a midseason replacement for Boston Legal — didn’t exactly blow TV critics away.

“The series, ultimately, is its own kind of surgery, stitched together from recent hits,” wrote the Los Angeles Times’ Paul Brownfield in a review at the time. “It’s promising material, even if you rarely get to experience it without the sudden intrusion of a Counting Crows-like dirge or the strange sensation that Sarah Jessica Parker is wondering, in voice-over, whether she has what it takes to be a brain surgeon.”

By its third season, however, Grey’s was a legit phenomenon. It had earned a Golden Globe for Sandra Oh and for the show itself, an Emmy for Katherine Heigl, and an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy nomination. Plus, its ratings vaulted the show into the top 5 shows on broadcast TV.

To celebrate the show turning 15 years old on March 27, we’re reeling off 15 impressive facts about the show’s legacy in the gallery above. (Seriously.)

Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays, 8/7c, ABC